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Basic Stilts 


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Basic Stilts 

Written By: Molly Graber 


Dowel (1) 

such as 1 " PVC pipe or a broomstick. 

Heat glove (1) 

Jigsaw (1) 

Propane torch (1) 

Router (1) 
sandpaper, optional. 

Safety glasses (1) 

Screwdriver (1) 

Sewing machine (1) 

T-square (1) 

Tables aw (1) 



Pair of shoes (1) 

Lumber (1) 

1 1 / 2 "x1 1 /2". See Step 1 for lengths. Find a 
straight piece of Douglas fir, ash, or 
poplar, without bows or knots. 

1/2" plywood (1) 

cabinet grade, enough for both footplates 

and C pieces. 

1/4" carriage screws (4) 
2 1/2" long. 

1/4" carriage screws (2) 
5 1/2" long. 

Flat washers (8) 
for carriage screws. 

1/4" nylon insert nuts (8) 

1 1/2" wood screws (18) 

1/2" wood screws (4) 

Wood glue (1) 


recycled mountain bike tire. 

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Basic Stilts 

Zip ties (4) 
12" long. 

Foam padding (1) 

Strapping (1) 

1 "-2" wide, seatbelt strapping and nylon 

webbing work well. Get enough to go 

around your calf, shin guard, foam, and 

piece B (see Step 1), VA> times per 



as wide as your strapping; each strap 

requires 10" of velcro. 

D-rings (4) 

as wide as your strapping. 

Thread (1) 

14" long. 


By Molly Graber and Chris Merrick 

Have you ever dreamed of being really tall? Walking on stilts is a fun and adventurous sport. 
But where are you going to get a decent-priced pair of stilts to try for your first time? 

With these instructions, you can add as much height as you want and not hurt your wallet in 
the meantime. All you need is the know-how to use some simple tools — or a friend who can 

Building your own pair of stilts ensures that they're made just for your body, and when you're 
done you've learned another crafty skill. Then all you'll need is someone to help you learn to 
walk tall — and also how to fall. It's a blast and we highly recommend it. Stilt walking can be 
as easy as it looks. 

For starters, check out an animated version of how the pieces fit together . 

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Basic Stilts 

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Basic Stilts 




• WARNING: When working with 
power tools, always take safety 
precautions. Safety glasses are 

• Determine how tall the stilts will be. 
This will be the length 
measurement for the pegs (piece 

• Measure from the bottom of your 
shoe to just below your knee and 
add 6". This is the length 
measurement for the shin supports 
(piece B). 

• Using a measuring square, cut 2 
pieces of 1 1/2" x1 1/2" wood to the 
length of A and 2 pieces to the 
length of B. Each stilt needs an 
extra 7" piece of the 1 1/2"x1 1/2" 
wood for the foot platform (piece 


• Cut the 2 support trapezoids (piece 
C) to size and shape from the 1/2" 
plywood. Sand all the edges. 

• Trace the outline of your shoes on 
1/2" plywood and leave at least 
1/2"-34" extra space outside of the 
shoe on all sides. The width should 
be at least 5" across at the middle 
of the footplate. Cut out both 
footplates and sand all the edges. 
Don't trim down the footplate where 
it will eventually rest against your 
shin support; this section (the outer 
edge of each foot) needs to follow a 
flat, straight line. 

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Basic Stilts 

Find your balance by balancing on a dowel. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width 
apart, line up your toes, and find your most comfortable balancing point by rolling the 
dowel back and forth underneath your feet while looking ahead. When you find the 
balancing point, have someone mark the outside of your shoes where the shoes intersect 
the dowel. Set the shoes on the footplates and mark each plate to match each shoe. 

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Basic Stilts 

For each stilt, you need pieces A, B, C, and D. Piece A will overlap piece B by 6". Piece C 
is the next layer, followed by piece D (Diagram 1, previous page). Two bolts go through 
each of these sets, as shown in Diagram 1. Use caution when drilling the holes: all pieces 
should be square on top where the footplate will attach. 

NOTE: Always label your pieces so that you line them up exactly as you drilled them. 

Drill holes in B, as shown in Diagram 1, with a 1/4" bit. 

Line up A to overlap B by 6", including the drilled holes. On a flat surface, clamp the 2 
pieces together. Drill through A using the holes already drilled in B as a guide. 

Using a T square, line up A with C. Clamp together and use the holes already drilled in A to 
guide you as you drill the holes in C. 

Line up D with C and use a T square for the top edge. Clamp and use C to guide you as 
you drill the hole in D. 

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Basic Stilts 

Practice assembling (Diagram 1), with the heads of the 51/2" and 4" carriage bolts on the 
outside of the assembly. If the pieces fit and form a flat rest for your footplate, take them 
apart and reassemble them, gluing each joint as you go. Holding the head of the bolt with 
pliers, tighten the nuts with an 8" wrench so the bolts sink into the wood. Pre-drill and 
screw 2 wood screws through C, attaching it to D. 

Pay attention to how the footplate will attach for each stilt. Arrange the pieces for each stilt 
so that B is on the outside of the shin. Pre-drill and attach the footplate to D and A with 
wood screws. 

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Basic Stilts 

Cut 2 pieces of your ABS pipe to 6" lengths with a reciprocating saw or handsaw. Cut out a 
3"-wide vertical section of each with a jigsaw. 

Clamp the ABS pipe in a vise, heat the middle section with a propane torch, and using a 
glove, gently bend the ABS to flare out to the shape of your shin. Once you think the ABS 
is bent out enough to fit around your shin with foam padding set inside, let it cool, then hold 
the ABS and the foam to your shin to make sure they fit. You may have to heat and bend it 
again so that it fits well. 

Drill a hole with the 1/4" bit 1" from the top of B. Use that hole to guide you in drilling your 
first hole in the ABS shin plate. Then thread the top hole of B and the ABS with a 2V2" 
carriage bolt (this time with the head facing inward toward your shin), but don't tighten it. 
Swing the front of the shin plate toward A so that it shows 1 Vi" past B. Drill the bottom hole 
through A and the shin plate. Thread holes with a 2V2" carriage bolt. Tighten both bolts. 
Trim excess ABS and bolt material with a reciprocating saw. 

WARNING: If you don't have much experience using a reciprocating saw, ask someone for 
help on this step. 

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Basic Stilts 

• The strap wraps around the back of 
your calf to the front, through the 
D-ring, and attaches back to itself 
with velcro. Sew the strap to the D- 
ring and the velcro to the strap. 

• Pre-drill the holes. Use 1/2" wood 
screws to attach the straps to A on 
the upper end adjacent to the shin 
plate with the D-ring facing forward. 

• Cut a 7"x15" piece of foam 
padding. Glue the foam onto your 
shin plates so that it wraps around 
the outside and back of your calf. 
Sew fabric around the foam for 
comfort, if you like. 

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Basic Stilts 

• Arrange each shoe on each footplate so the mark on the outside of the shoe lines up with 
the line on your footplate and with the middle of A. Stand on your stilts with your shoes on 
to find the right shoe placement before attaching them. 

• Loosen laces and remove shoe liners. Pre-drill and screw each shoe onto a footplate with 
at least 2 wood screws per shoe. 

• Use zip ties to attach the bike tire footings to the bottom of the stilts. 

• For more information, check out 

This project first appeared in CRAFT Volume 08 , pages 113-116. 

This document was last generated on 201 2-1 1 -03 02:41 :31 AM. 

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